Dear High Speed Rail:
You’ve done our communities wrong and we will defend our communities at all costs. You act as if you have an entitlement to disrupt our lives and not listen or communicate with us in earnest. We are done playing exclusively by your rules. We live in these communities and have deep roots here. Our families, friendships, lives and environment are intertwined in ways that only centuries and millennia can change. We built these communities. We celebrate the communities’ successes, and we solve its problems. We have our life’s savings invested here. We are stewards for each other, our neighbors, our wildlife, our water resources and our environment. We will not be railroaded or disrespected on our streets, in our communities. We will hold you accountable and will work with you when you are sincere and when independent and true third-party, expert validation is assured.
We invited you to our meeting last week on December 2nd after you failed to complete environmental studies on schedule and after you cancelled PROMISED outreach meetings for the balance of the year. You declined to attend. You issued a sketchy project section update, with questionable intent and content, 30 minutes before our meeting – by email – when you knew we were preoccupied. We requested to be added to your Board agenda today and you declined. You’ve missed key deadlines for communicating with our communities about environmental studies both before the release of the flawed SAA Report and in the 6 months since. You’ve not come close to establishing independent, third-party review of your work. You’ve sent us communications that have dire consequences for our communities by email, by mail, by text message, the week before Thanksgiving and on Christmas Eve. Never in person and rarely in a format you don’t control or limit comments and questions. You’ve largely ignored us and our elected officials in our home communities in pursuit of your flawed project alternatives and deceptive timelines. The only time you came close to listening was by committing to “working group” meetings, but those only happened upon our suggestion.
Without you, but as planned prior to year end, we held a community leader meeting last Wednesday on the one year anniversary of the introduction of the flawed East Corridor routes. Those in attendance, who numbered close to 100 and represented nearly every community leader organization in the region, agreed unanimously to send you a summary of the items we discussed last week. Nearly every elected official from the northeast San Fernando Valley and Santa Clarita was in attendance or represented as well.
The letter called for by our community leaders is attached. We are calling for change, for transparency, for responsiveness, for respect, for elimination of shocking, newly identified conflicts of interest and for a reality check on all timelines and schedules. From the first meeting we ever had with CHSRA, we have called for CHSRA to do its job right. You got off on the wrong foot with us with your errant and careless mailers and flyers, and little has changed. You work in desperation mode, enslaved by flawed and deceptive timelines that are a prescription for shortcuts, shortcomings and failure.
A very clear and airtight case has been made for immediate removal of all surface route elements from further consideration. That is a good starting point for future conversations, but there is much else to discuss if this job is to be done right. CHSRA needs to listen to communities and not force its agenda upon them.
We will join with our elected officials at any time prior to or immediately following the holiday period to hold a community meeting at which you are welcome to attend and provide the information and transparency we deserve.
On behalf of the S.A.F.E. Coalition and our united friends from the entire Burbank to Palmdale Project Section,